First Monday in October Studio: Paramount Year: 1981 Rated: R Length: 98 Minutes Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Audio: Dolby Digital Mono English subtitles Special Features: None SRP: $14.99 USD Release Date: July 6, 2004 The stage play origins of First Monday in October are evident in this film by Ronald Neame, which features not great action or effects, nor great slapstick. Instead, it features strong, witty dialog between leads Walter Matthau and Jill Clayburgh. Matthau is Justice Dan Snow, a liberal voice on the Supreme Court - and he’s known as The Great Dissenter. After the death of another Justice, the President appoints a conservative woman to the bench, Justice Ruth Loomis. Loomis becomes the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court. Oddly, around the time the film premiered, Ronald Reagan actually did appoint the first woman to the bench - Sandra Day O’Connor, whose ideals parallel those of Justice Loomis in the film. Matthau plays up the wry, liberal, opinionated character to great effect, and Clayburgh holds her own as his conservative foil. Barnard Hughes provides further comic relief as a crusty Chief Justice. The comedy here is understated and underplayed - which adds to the realism of the film. It’s a joy to watch Matthau and Clayburgh together. The witty dialog and fine comedic mannerisms keep you entertained throughout. This is classic Matthau. The “R” rating is most likely due to flashes of a pornographic film seen within the film, as the Justices screen The Naked Nymphomaniac as part of an obscenity case. Video The image is presented in anamorphically enhanced widescreen, in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The picture is sharp, with a good level of detail. Grain is very tight. Colors are true and well saturated. The contrast of the picture is very good, with whites that don’t blow out and strong black levels that preserve a good level of detail in the shadows. Occasional specks of dust are visible in the print, but they don’t call attention to themselves. This is a relatively pristine print for its age. I could see no evidence of compression artifacts in the film, though there are minor and infrequent instances of haloing, especially between building and sky. Viewing on a 32” or smaller screen, you’ll be hard pressed to notice, but those viewing on a large screen may notice two or three occasions of this. Really, there is little to quibble about, here. It’s a fine transfer. Audio Sound is limited to a Dolby Digital Monaural track, in English, of course. There is no evidence of hiss in the audio. The sound is clean throughout, with good frequency response. This film is all about the dialog, and you won’t miss a word of it. All of the dialog is clear and intelligible throughout. Bass response is strong enough to be noticed in the music, much of which consists of marches. The soundtrack delivers nicely on one channel. Special Features There are no special features. Final Thoughts This is an enjoyable film, driven entirely by the performances of Matthau and Clayburgh - and the transfer won’t disappoint.